Moura leads Blanc to another win over Bordeaux

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Paris Saint-Germain moved a provisional six points clear of title rivals AS Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 thanks to a 2-0 win over Girondins de Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes on Friday. It was not a vintage performance from the champions, but they eventually overcame a stubborn Girondins side, although they were still not quite back to their flowing best. Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alex, both assisted by Lucas Moura, eventually made the difference between the two sides on a rainy night in the French capital.

The only place to start though is with the debut of Yohan Cabaye, PSG’s newest acquisition and something of a protégée of coach Laurent Blanc’s from his international days.

After resisting the temptation to throw the 28-year-old in from the start of the eventual 2-0 win, despite Marco Verratti’s suspension, Le President instead opted to go with struggling Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore. Cabaye did eventually feature, replacing El Flaco after 68 minutes with PSG one goal towards the final scoreline, and went on to make an impact in his first 22 minutes in his new colours.

The former Newcastle United man was involved on two notable occasions. The first, a long-range left-footed effort that went wide after shaping to shoot first to fool his man. The second was a header from an excellent lofted ball in from fellow substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi that bounced back off the post in the build-up to the hosts’ second goal.

It was an encouraging start to life with the capital club for Cabaye, although the real difference makers on the night were Ibrahimovic, Alex and Moura.

Lucas was handed a rare start, given the opportunity alongside Pastore to prove that both could raise their game now that Cabaye has arrived to challenge them further to merit regular inclusion. Despite a relatively slow start to the match, in which the Brazilian looked a little rusty, the Selecao star eventually found his rhythm.

Moura’s first assist, although there was more than a hint of offside about it, was an excellent right-wing cross that enabled Ibrahimovic to simply tap home; the Swede’s joyous celebrations with the 21-year-old was proof that the team are aware of the talented youngster’s need for a boost in confidence. His self belief will have been furthered by his second assist from a corner though: providing a near post cross for Alex to volley home a sublime second in as many matches that any striker would have been proud of.

While Moura was finally getting the 90 minutes and increased involvement that he has craved over recent weeks though, Pastore had already been taken off.

Sacrificed in order to introduce Cabaye for his debut, the Argentine international actually enjoyed a decent performance. However, the problem is that while he might have been decent on the night, he is still not providing goals or assists. His contribution towards PSG’s on-field success is not quantifiable and, although statistics do not reflect everything, zero goals or assists in 16 league appearances is a damning tally by anyone’s standards.

However, that was one moot point on a night bereft of real quality from both sides and PSG lacking the same vim and vigour that they have made their fans accustomed to since the start of the season. It was a positive evening overall, labouring to the 2-0 win despite boasting 67 percent of total possession.

The result moves the champions a provisional six points clear of second placed Monaco, meaning that the capital club will take at least a three-point lead to the principality to face deadline day signing Dimitar Berbatov and his new side next week. The result was rewarding as it forced PSG to be “patient” in Blanc’s words post-match, eventually breaking down a resolute defence as Francis Gillot urged his men to sit back where possible.

A first clean sheet in two matches, although it feels like longer, will also come as a massive boost. Questions were asked, particularly of the team’s ability to defend set-pieces, following the Coupe de France exit to Montpellier HSC and last weekend’s surprise 1-1 draw away at EA Guingamp. Captain Thiago Silva’s return arguably contributed towards the eradication of those concerns.

One of the biggest boosts came off the pitch after the match though, with reported Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea target Blaise Matuidi confirming to Canal+ that he will be shortly putting pen to paper on a long awaited contract extension. There is obviously light at the end of the tunnel in his on-going legal wrangle and his renewal, once finalised, will be great news for the capital club.

So, Blanc’s impressive record against his former club continues. That is now four wins from four matches across all competitions against Les Girondins this season, but a first at the Parc des Princes in three recent attempts. The victory takes the pressure off ahead of next week’s pivotal clash with Monaco and allows PSG to focus entirely on an equally important Coupe de la Ligue semifinal away at FC Nantes on Tuesday.

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